It always comes down to turnout

As the US goes to the polls today, it really doesn’t matter whether one identifies as a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or whatever. Whether we prefer Beto or Ted, Andrew or Rod, Stacey or Brian means precisely nothing if we don’t go vote.

It turns out that our strongly held beliefs and eloquently worded arguments on social media are just so much you-know-what if we never get out of the stands and into the arena.

It turns out that even with something as mundane as our shopping intentions, if we don’t traffic the retailer’s store or website the retailer has no chance of selling us anything. No traffic, no sale.

It turns out that in the face of devastating tragedy all of our expressions of “thoughts and prayers” do rather little to change the underlying factors that led to the event in the first place.

It turns out that when someone is suffering, sending a card or flowers is nice, but it’s our showing up for them–in compassion, vulnerability and authenticity–that truly matters.

I’m not at all sure that, as the saying goes, 80% of life is showing up. But I am rather certain that it’s impossible to make a real difference if our thoughts and beliefs never turn into action.

As it turns out, it’s always been about turnout. And those that care show up.

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“I’ve wasted enough of my viewers’ time.”

The best moment on television yesterday was clearly this.

The second best, in my opinion, was Jake Tapper’s CNN interview with White House adviser (and front-runner for the least likable person to grow up in Santa Monica) Stephen Miller.

For more than 10 minutes Miller spouted off irrelevant nonsense until Tapper finally showed him the door with the send-off “I’ve wasted enough of my viewers’ time.” If only more folks had the courage to take decisive action on the useless, the meaningless, the dishonest, the distracting.

We waste our customers’ time with undifferentiated products, boring experiences and one-size-fits-all marketing.

We waste our teams’ time with meetings that have no discernible goals or impact.

We waste our friends’ and followers’ time with posts that serve no purpose other than to prop up our egos.

We waste our own time by needing to be right, staying stuck in resentment, obsessing about things we cannot change, confusing busy with effective, and on and on.

Mary Oliver, probably my favorite poet, beckons us with the question: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Great question.

Tick tock.

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This post has been simultaneously published on my other, more spiritually oriented blog.

 

 

That which we worship

“What people revere, they resemble, either for ruin or for restoration.”

– Greg Beale

The word “worship” most often has a religious connotation. But we can revere, adore, exalt, venerate and glorify many things beyond whatever concept of a Higher Power we have (or don’t).

We can worship money.

We can worship being right.

We can worship a bigger house filled with more and ever cooler stuff.

We can worship the demonization of people different from us.

We can worship busyness.

We can worship propping up or protecting our ego.

We can even worship feeling like a victim.

And on and on.

Then again…

We can worship compassion.

Or generosity.

Or acceptance.

Or courage.

Or forgiveness.

Or love.

The thing to remember is that which we worship is a choice, made each and every day, in the present moment.

The other thing to remember is that, ultimately, what we worship defines us and our impact on the world.

As we embark on a New Year maybe it’s time to make some different choices?

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A version of this post originally was posted on my “other” blog: I Got Here As Fast As I Could.

Predictable crises

When someone we care about fails to admit they have a serious problem and fails to do the work to remedy it, are we shocked when they eventually experience the consequences of their addictive or dysfunctional behavior?

Are we surprised one little bit when a brand facing stiff competition and highly disruptive forces finds itself struggling to stay in business because it never bothered to get serious about innovation?

Is it at all astonishing that deficits mount or poverty persists or bridges collapse when politicians lack the courage to address the root causes and constantly kick the can down the road?

In The Sun Also Rises one of Hemingway’s characters famously answered the question of how he went bankrupt by saying: “Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

If we are honest, many of us see the wall we’re going to crash into long before we feel the impact. But fear keeps us stuck in inaction and false hope.

Liars lie. Gravity always wins. And few problems unaddressed magically fix themselves.

The best time to start was likely years ago. The second best time is now.

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The price of waiting

It’s typically not difficult to calculate the cost of starting something, of moving ahead, of taking the plunge.

Perhaps it’s a new IT project or a marketing test. Possibly it’s a decision to try a pilot concept or invest in a promising technology. Or maybe we’re considering taking the next big step in a hopeful personal relationship.

When we have to ante up additional time, write that big check, invest more emotional commitment, the price tag often seems pretty obvious.

Yet what we get wrong (or dramatically underestimate) are the consequences of our hesitation. We lean on the desire for better data and convince ourselves we need more time to weigh or explore our options. We become a slave to the pull of our perfectionism. We tell ourselves the time is just not quite right to act.

Ultimately, what keeps us stuck, what causes us to not pull the trigger, is our fear of getting it wrong, of looking stupid, of being judged, of fully experiencing and feeling our vulnerability.

It’s not hard to see how waiting too long to innovate has been the death knell for many companies. Think Blockbuster, Netflix, RadioShack and (soon) Sears. They paid (or are paying) the ultimate price for waiting.

My guess is that with whatever organizations you’ve been involved in you can readily point to opportunities that were missed because moving ahead was deemed too risky, when just the opposite proved to be true.

And maybe we’ve let real love and connection allude us for similar reasons.

Indeed, sometimes the waiting IS the hardest part.

Alas, other times it’s all too easy.

And we realize how high the price is when it’s all too late.

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